Pool & Spa Outdoor Blog

Top 7 Outdoor Furniture Trends for 2013

New Outdoor Furniture Designs offer
Flexible Style and Indoor Comfort

As homeowners continue to spend more time and money on their outdoor spaces, outdoor furniture manufacturers have come up with new designs and innovative products to meet their growing needs and style preferences. The latest trends in outdoor furniture and accessories focus on indoor comfort, design flexibility, and making better use of your outdoor living space. Here are the top 7 outdoor furniture trends you can expect to see this spring.

1. Stackable Patio Chairs

Circa Stackable Patio Chairs and Dining SetLightweight stackable patio chairs and table sets offer versatile solutions for small yards: they can be repositioned to maximize space and accommodate guests during outdoor gatherings; then stacked and stored away when not in use.

The need for space-saving furniture comes from the reality that many homeowners are moving into smaller homes and “therefore tend to have less outdoor space,” says Gerald Shvartsman, CEO and owner of Source Outdoor, a high-end outdoor furniture manufacturer in Miami, Fla. According to a study by the National Association of Home Builders, the size of the average single-family home will have decreased by 10 percent by 2015.

In addition to smaller spaces, Shvartsman contributes the interest in stackable outdoor furniture to its easy portability. Many homeowners want to bring their furniture indoors during harsh storms or the winter months to help it last longer and protect it from the elements.

Fusion Stackable Sling Chair from Source Outdoor"A huge benefit or reason as to why stackable outdoor furniture is trending more and more is because consumers can save space in storage and have greater mobility to move their furniture when needed," says Shvartsman.

But don’t confuse stackable patio furniture with the outdated plastic white lawn chairs you probably have hiding out in the back of your garage. Today’s outdoor stackable furniture is crafted from durable, high-quality materials like weather-resistant aluminum and synthetic rattan and is designed with a modern style to look great in any setting.

The Circa Stackable Outdoor Dining Chair (pictured above) and the Fusion Stackable Chat Set (pictured at right) are two examples of the stylish new options in stackable outdoor furniture.

Photos courtesy of UpSpring PR on behalf of Source Outdoor

Outdoor rugs are a top trend this summer 2. Outdoor Rugs

Outdoor rugs are a top trend this summer as the desire to bring the look and comfort of the indoors out remains in high demand among homeowners. Just like an interior rug, an outdoor rug can pull your entire outdoor space together, as well as define seating areas and add a warm and welcoming feel to your patio, porch, or deck.

Outdoor rugs are available in all shapes, sizes, colors and patterns to match any décor theme and can even extend the look of your home’s interior. Most outdoor rugs are made from polypropylene for water, mold, and mildew prevention and are treated to resist fading from UV exposure.

Photo courtesy of Whitecraft, Inc.; William Herren, Designer

3. Deep Seating Furniture

Deep Seating Outdoor Furniture from Pride Family BrandsDeep seating outdoor furniture, which includes upholstered chairs, sofas, loveseats, chaise lounges, and ottomans, continues to grow in popularity. Like the cozy furnishings that make a living room the most relaxing place to gather inside the home, deep seating outdoor furniture features large, wide seating areas and soft, oversized cushions to create an equally enticing refuge outdoors.

Deep seating patio furniture comes in a variety of durable, weather-resistant materials, including synthetic wicker, cast aluminum, wrought iron, and wood. Design styles range from traditional to contemporary to country chic and can either extend the look of your interiors or create a new décor theme outdoors.

Modular deep seating sets are a popular choice because the sectional pieces can be moved around or grouped together to best fit the occasion or space. Source Outdoor’s Lucaya collection (pictured below) offers a range of 14 different pieces “so people can customize the look of their space, big or small,” says Shvartsman.

Lucaya Outdoor Modular Deep Seating Lucaya Modular Chaise Lounge with Blue Cushions

Above: Photos courtesy of UpSpring PR on behalf of Source Outdoor
Top Right: Photo courtesy of Pride Family Brands

Outdoor fabric options from Pride Family Brands4. Outdoor Fabrics

Outdoor furniture fabrics continue to improve in performance, design, and texture. Outdoor cushions made from acrylic, polyester, and olefin fabrics feel just as comfy and soft as their indoor counterparts and are resistant to water, stains, and fading from UV exposure so there’s no need to bring them inside after every use. Cleaning is also simple: just wipe them down with a mild soap and a little warm water.

Along with enhanced durability, outdoor fabrics are now being produced in wider ranges of colors, patterns, and prints and offer unlimited design possibilities for outdoor spaces. Everything from outdoor furniture cushions to patio umbrellas and awnings to accent pillows, outdoor curtains and rugs can be mixed and matched to add depth and personality to your space.

The latest design trends for 2013 call for out-of-the-ordinary combinations such as mixing contrasting prints such as stripes and floral and mingling bright vivid shades like poppy red and zesty yellow with neutrals like gray and tan.

The abundance and diversity in outdoor fabrics make it easier and more affordable to update the look of your outdoor space from one season to the next and as trends come and go.

Photo courtesy of Pride Family Brands

5. Multifunctional Pieces

Outdoor Bar Height Dining Fire Pit TableWith the rise of the “outdoor room,” backyards have become multipurpose spaces for dining, swimming, lounging, cooking, and entertaining. As such, outdoor furniture designers are now creating pieces that cater to a variety of needs and activities.

Dining or bar height firepit tables are one of the latest outdoor furniture offerings and provide the warmth and ambiance of a fit pit along with adequate space for dining and socializing. Many manufacturers produce a range of dining fire table sizes to accommodate any space and family, big or small.

A few companies have taken multifunctional furniture a step further with accessories like a Lazy Susan that fits over the fire pit section if extra table space is needed and a table top grill pan that allows you to cook food right at the table, creating an interactive dining experience.

Other multifunctional furniture trends include outdoor storage ottomans, benches, and chaise loungers that provide seating as well as a discreet place to stash furniture cushions, garden tools, or pool toys.

Pride Family Brands is one outdoor furniture manufacturer incorporating this trend into its product line. The company has designed a selection of woven aluminum outdoor storage units, including an oversized coffee table, end table, and an armoire/side board.

Jakarta Outdoor Deep Seating Collection from Pride Family BrandsOutdoor Storage Chest Coffee Table from Pride Family Brands

Photos courtesy of Pride Family Brands

Deep Seating Outdoor Rocking Chair6. Motion Seating

In keeping with the notion toward indoor comfort, motion seating such as swivel chairs, gliders, and rockers are making a bigger presence in outdoor furniture collections this year.

Though they’re not a new trend, outdoor rocking chairs, swivel seats, gliders, and swings are now being designed in a wider array of materials and styles, including deep-seating designs with plush cushions and contoured seats for maximum comfort and relaxation outdoors.

Photo courtesy of New River Casual Furniture;
Photography by Wayne Donelsen, Deanne & Wayne Co.

Transitional Style Outdoor Furniture with Curved Seating7. Transitional Style

Overall, the biggest trend in outdoor furniture this year is the move toward transitional design. A mix between classic and contemporary styles, transitional outdoor furniture blends the clean lines of modern furniture with the curves and comfort of traditional designs for a look that is simple, yet inviting.

The popularity of transitional style furniture stems from its design versatility: Transitional outdoor furniture can easily be mixed and matched with more modern or traditional pieces and works well in any backyard setting. Additionally, transitional style outdoor furniture affords homeowners the flexibility to revamp the look of their outdoor space from one design scheme to the next just by switching out the cushions and accessories.

Photo courtesy of Pride Family Brands

Learn which type of outdoor furniture is best for your climate and space in our Guide to Buying Outdoor Furniture >>

2013 NESPA Award-Winning Swimming Pools Photo Gallery

Beautiful Award-Winning Pool Photos from NESPA

NESPA Crystal Pool and Spa deck bridge backyardLooking to add a pool or renovate your existing swimming pool for the summer? Now is the time to plan! With so many shapes, materials, water features, lighting options, and more, you may not be sure where to start...

That’s why we’ve added a new swimming pool photo gallery featuring the winners of Northeast Spa & Pool Association’s (NESPA) annual Awards of Excellence.


See 100 photos of beautiful swimming pools built and designed by talented pool builders dedicated to their craft. Browse the gallery for striking images of inground pools, custom spas, hot tubs, waterfalls, water features, and more. View pool photos >>


Photo courtesy of NESPA; Crystal Pool & Spa, Inc., East Hanover, NJ (Gold winner)

Pool & Spa Outdoor's 2013 Buyers' Guide

Explore Company Profiles in Pool & Spa Outdoor's New 2013 Buyers' Guide

Coral Stone USA pool decking tilePool & Spa Outdoor has come out with its 2013 Buyers' Guide online. We are your best resource for buying tips, company information, website listings, and photo ideas for everything in your backyard.

Our annual Buyers' Guide includes over 30 categories of outdoor products and provides a list of builders and manufacturers of swimming pools, custom spas, pool covers, cleaners, decking companies, and more!

With a new design for easy navigation, you can find everything from inground pool builders and pool maintenance products to hot tubs, waterslides, and stone decking. Check out the photo galleries, videos, testimonials, and pricing from our featured company profiles.


To get photo ideas and product info for all the latest backyard products, visit Pool & Spa Outdoor's 2013 Buyers' Guide


Photo courtesy of CoralStoneUSA.com

2013 APSP Award-Winning Swimming Pools Photo Gallery

Get Inspired with Award-Winning Pool Photos from APSP

APSP Naturescapes award winning swimming pool deck backyardIf chilly weather has you wishing for summer, now is the time to start collecting ideas for your own backyard swimming pool. Will this year be the year you become a proud pool owner? Or maybe you plan to renovate your existing pool… or makeover your entire backyard into an at-home resort.

If you are looking for beautiful swimming pool photos and ideas to design your own backyard resort and outdoor living space, check out the winners of The International Awards of Excellence presented by the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP). Every year, APSP honors talented pool builders and pool designers for their amazing projects and water features.


Click through the entire gallery of award-winning swimming pool photos, waterfalls, water features, spas, stone decks, and more. Choose your favorites to inspire your own backyard pool design or outdoor living space. See pool photos >>


"Photo courtesy of APSP; Naturescapes, Overland Park, Kansas (Natural Setting, Silver)

10 Chocolate Dessert Recipes for Valentine’s Day

Delicious Desserts for Valentine's Day

Treat your sweetheart (and yourself) to one of the delicious Valentine’s Day dessert recipes below. From cupcakes to cookies to brownies, each of these desserts features the classic combination of rich, bittersweet chocolate and sweet, juicy cherries—a perfect match for your taste buds!

Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes

Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes
Servings: 1 dozen

8 ounces butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup milk
1 1/3 cups pitted cherries, halved


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cream together the butter and sugar using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer 4 to 5 minutes, until fluffy and light. Slowly beat in the eggs.

In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa. Add this to the egg mixture along with the milk and mix just long enough to blend the ingredients, no more than 20 seconds.

Fold in the halved cherries, no more than another 10 seconds. Let rest 10 minutes, then fill greased muffin cups to the brim with the batter.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove and let cool 10 minutes before unmolding.

Recipe and photo courtesy of California Cherry Board

Croissant French Toast with Fresh Bing Cherry Sauce

Croissant French Toast with Cherry Sauce
Servings: 4

1/2 cup orange marmalade
2 cups pitted fresh cherries
Four croissants, ok if day-old
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon canola oil
2 cups fresh whipped cream
1/2 cup chocolate sauce


Heat orange marmalade in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add cherries and cook for five minutes stirring frequently. Remove from flame.

Slice croissants in half lengthwise, as if to make a sandwich. Whisk eggs, milk, cream in flat-bottomed baking dish. Lay croissant pieces in egg mixture, flipping several times as liquid is absorbed.

Add canola oil to griddle and heat on medium flame. Cook croissant slices until golden brown on each side.

Place bottom croissant slices on serving plates. Top with ½ cup cherry mixture. Top with croissant tops, add a dollop of whipped cream and finish with a pour of chocolate sauce.

Recipe and photo courtesy of California Cherry Board

Chocolate-Dipped Cherry Treats

Chocolate Dipped Cherry TreatsIngredients
1 to 2 pounds fresh California Bing cherries
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Heat chocolate over medium heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon until melted, about five minutes. (Note: Use a double boiler. Or fill a saucepan half full with water and place chocolate in a small, deep heatproof bowl that fits snugly on the saucepan, but does not touch the water. )

3. Wash cherries with stems on and let dry. Optional pitting instructions: Using a cherry pitting device, carefully remove the pit going through the cherry cross-ways rather than from top to bottom. This will allow the stem to remain intact. The hole in the middle of the cherry will be covered with chocolate when dipped.

4. Carefully pick cherries up by the stem and dip just over half-way into the melted chocolate. Let excess chocolate drip back into the pan or bowl.

5. Place on aluminum-lined cookie sheet and set in the refrigerator until the chocolate has set, about 15 minutes.

6. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Recipe and photo courtesy of California Cherry Board


Cherry-Misu RecipeServings: 9

2 jars (10 oz. each) maraschino cherries
2 cartons (8 oz. each) Mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. Amaretto or brandy
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup water
42 crisp ladyfinger cookies
2 milk chocolate candy bars (1.55 oz. each), grated Chocolate curls


Drain cherries, reserving juice and 9 cherries; set aside. Chop remaining cherries.

In a large bowl, combine the cheese, sugar, Amaretto, vanilla and 1 Tbsp. cherry juice. In another bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; gently fold into cheese mixture.

Combine water and remaining cherry juice. Arrange 14 ladyfingers in an ungreased 9-in. square pan. Brush with 3/4 cup cherry juice mixture. Spread 1-1/3 cups cheese mixture over ladyfingers. Sprinkle with half of the chopped cherries and grated chocolate. Repeat layers.

Top with remaining ladyfingers and cheese mixture. Garnish with chocolate curls and reserved cherries. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Editor’s Note: This recipe was prepared with Alessi brand crisp ladyfinger cookies.

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Cherry Growers & Industries Foundation

Chocolate Cherry Bombs

Chocolate Cherry Bombs
Servings: Makes 16 (1 1/2-inch) cherry bombs

1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries with stems
2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
1 (7.25-ounce) bottle chocolate shell topping


Drain cherries. Remove stems and save them to complete the recipe.

Place cherries and 1 cup ice cream in electric blender. Pulse to combine. Combine cherry mixture with remaining 1 cup ice cream in a medium bowl; mix with a spoon. Divide between 2 small (8-ounce) bowls. Cover and freeze overnight or until firm.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Shake chocolate shell topping 30 seconds; divide between 2 custard cups or small bowls. Remove 1 container of ice cream from freezer. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop 1 (1-inch) ball; place on fork. Spoon chocolate shell topping over ball while holding over custard cup. Place on baking sheet; quickly insert 1 reserved cherry stem in top. (To remove ball from fork, push off gently at base with knife).

Repeat with remaining ice cream. Work quickly so ice cream does not get too soft. Place cherry bombs in freezer. Repeat procedure with remaining bowl of ice cream. Freeze until ready to serve.

Tip: If blender is unavailable, finely chop cherries and stir into ice cream.

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Cherry Growers & Industries Foundation

Chocolate Covered Cherry Brownie Jumble

Chocolate Covered Cherry Brownie Jumble
Servings: Makes 16 brownies

1 box (21 oz) fudge brownie mix
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
16 chocolate cookie wafers, broken into large halves
1 (10-12 oz) jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnutes (optional)
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix brownie mix, eggs, water and oil in a large bowl until well blended. Spread batter in a 13"x19" greased pan.

Scatter top of batter with cookies, cherries, chocolate chips and walnuts. Drizzle with condensed milk.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until topping is golden. Let cool and then cut 4x4 into 16 pieces.

Cook's Note: If using a glass baking pan, increase cooking time to 40 minutes.

Recipe and photo by Kathy Casey Food Studios® for the National Cherry Foundation

Black Forest Cupcakes-Gluten Free

Black Forest Cupcakes-Gluten Free
Servings: Makes 24 gluten-free cupcakes

½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups gluten-free flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1½ cups milk
1 (14.5) ounce can red tart cherries, drained
1 (10 ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained and liquid reserved, use divided.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated dark chocolate for garnish


CUPCAKES: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Insert paper liners into the cups of 2 standard muffin pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Turn mixer to low and add the eggs, one at a time until each egg is fully mixed in, scrapping down the sides of the bowl with each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and milk to the creamed butter, starting with 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half the milk, half the remaining flour mixture, the rest of the milk and the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer and scrap the sides and bottom of the bowl well with a large spatula.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of batter into each prepared muffin cup, add 3 of the red tart cherries to each cup then top with 2 more tablespoons of batter. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until springy on the top. Allow to cool in pan for about 5 minutes.

With a toothpick, poke 6 or 8 holes in each cupcake. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of reserved maraschino cherry liquid onto each cupcake and let it soak in. Remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

TOPPING: Whip cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and 1 tablespoon of reserved maraschino cherry juice. Beat until stiff.

Frost cupcakes and garnish with a maraschino cherry and some grated chocolate.

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Cherry Growers & Industries Foundation. Recipe developed by Carol Kicinski

Maraschino Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Maraschino Chocolate Thumbprint CookiesIngredients
2 jars (10 ounces each) maraschino cherries without stems
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons 2% milk
Baker's Joy No-Stick Baking Spray


Drain maraschino cherries, reserving 1 teaspoon juice. Combine flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl; mix well.

Put butter and sugar in medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed 3 to 4 minutes, or until well blended. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Add flour mixture; mix well.

Put chocolate chips and milk in a small saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat until chocolate melts. Stir in reserved maraschino cherry juice. Let cool slightly.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on baking pan prepared with Baker's Joy. Push in centers with thumb; spoon 1 teaspoon chocolate mixture into each thumbprint and top with a cherry.

Bake in 350 degree oven 10 to 12 minutes, or until cookies are firm. Remove to wire racks. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Cherry Growers & Industries Foundation

Chocolate Cherry Cookies

Chocolate Cherry CookiesServings: Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate melted and cooled
1/3 cup buttermilk, milk or water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour or whole wheat flour*
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 cups cut up maraschino cherries (4 10 oz. jars stem-less)

2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
3 tablespoons water
1+ cup powdered sugar
Note: If using self-rising flour, omit baking soda and salt.


Heat oven to 400 degrees.

COOKIES: Mix sugar, margarine/butter, egg, chocolate, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt and cherries.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched; cool.

Frost with Chocolate Frosting or Dust with Powdered Sugar.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING: Heat chocolate and margarine over low heat until melted; remove from heat. Stir in water. Gradually add powdered sugar until smooth.

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Cherry Growers & Industries Foundation

Easy Chocolate Covered Cherries

Easy Chocolate Covered CherriesServings: Makes about 5 dozen

2 jars (10 ounces each) maraschino cherries with stems
1 package (12 ounce) semisweet chocolate chips


Drain cherries; discard juice. Put cherries on paper towels to drain completely.

Put chocolate chips in a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted. Do not let chocolate get too hot. Remove from heat.

Dip cherries into chocolate; swirl to coat completely. Place on baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Refrigerate until set.

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Cherry Growers & Industries Foundation

Choosing the Best Covers for Your Outdoor Furniture

Tips for selecting patio furniture covers

Guest post by Lucy Markham

Coverture Patio Furniture CoversOutdoor waterproof patio covers are essential to extend the life of your outdoor furniture. Though you may feel comfortable leaving your patio furniture unprotected during the warmer months, the truth is that each season of the year poses a unique threat to your outdoor furniture. From the morning dew and insect pollination of spring, unpredictable showers and intense scorch of the sun during the summer, and the weight of falling leaves and snow during the colder seasons, your outdoor furniture should be covered when not in use.

When choosing a cover for your outdoor patio furniture, it’s important to understand the vital elements that make the cover strong enough to withstand the harsh weather in the coming months.

Here’s what to look for when choosing covers for your outdoor furniture:


When looking for outdoor furniture covers, be sure to choose a strong and durable fabric that will withstand the elements of every season. A canvas material may be thick and lasting; however, if you live in an area that experiences heavy rain, a canvas cover may be susceptible to leakage and can cause detrimental water damage to your furniture. Another material used for furniture covers is a waterproof polyester blend. Although you may feel that you are saving money by investing in a less expensive fabric, cheap polyester becomes brittle in extreme temperatures and cracks, exposing your furniture to the elements.

Photo courtesy of Couverture

For ultimate waterproof protection during each season, look for outdoor furniture covers made from multilayered and nonwoven fabrics. This material is extremely breathable while also being waterproof and providing optimal UV protection. Additionally, look for a material that is easy to clean and store, as you want to make sure that your investment will protect your patio furniture for several seasons to come.


Just as it’s important to select the right material for the covers, it is equally important to be certain you have invested in the correct cover size. A majority of retail stores have samples available to give you a range of what is offered, and many manufacturers offer consulting in custom sizing. California-based Couverture, for example, keeps a library of patterns for hundreds of pieces of designer brand outdoor furniture and can also create a new pattern made from your measurements.

Before making any purchases, be sure to measure your furniture, especially the configuration of a table and chairs set where the size might vary considerably from what you’d expect. A cover that is too small will not provide adequate protection while a cover that is too big will have extra material that can sag or get picked up by the wind, allowing rain and debris to find its way in.

Patio Furniture with Duck CoverSpecial Features

To prevent the covers from blowing off of the furniture in high winds, look for covers that have attached straps that tie to the bottom of the furniture, so no matter how intense the storm is, your furniture will be protected.

Another new and innovative feature is from Duck Covers, who offers an inflatable dome to be placed under a patio table, chair, or couch to insure that debris and standing water don’t collect in the crevices of the furniture once covered. The domes allow water to easily slide off of the covers while also permitting air to circulate beneath them. This insures than mold and mildew will not accumulate underneath the covers during humid and rainy seasons.

Investing in quality outdoor furniture covers made from durable and waterproof materials will provide sustaining protection during each season and keep your outdoor furniture looking just as luxurious as when you first purchased it.

Lucy Markham is a graduate of the University of Florida in English and creative writing. As a recent homeowner, she considers herself a bit of an expert on home improvement and décor as she devoted countless hours to improving her new home.

Right: Photos courtesy of Duck Covers

10 Outdoor Firepit Designs to Match Any Backyard

Discover the Best Firepit Design for Your Backyard Landscape

Outdoor firepits add both sizzle and style to backyard living spaces and come in an array of shapes and materials to match any setting. Take a look at the 10 designs below to find the best firepit for your backyard setting and decor.

Copper Firepit Design
Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com

Copper gives this outdoor firepit unique character. Left untreated, the copper develops a patina which imparts an antique, Old World feel that is ideal for backyards with a rustic or Mediterranean theme. The metal’s shiny finish can also be easily maintained using a quality copper cleaner and polisher for a refined, contemporary look.

Square Firepit with Mission Style Base
Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com

This wood-burning firepit’s square shape and Mission-Style design is a lovely complement to Modern and Transitional style homes and landscapes. This firepit can also lend a contemporary feel to southwestern and desert settings. The ceramic tiles surrounding the steel fire bowl have a dark, wood-like finish and provide an elegant accent.

Firepit Table Design with Slate Tile Mosaic
Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com

Enjoy cozy conversation with friends and family around this attractive gas firepit table, which features an 11-inch surface area for resting drinks or snacks. The mosaic brown, green, blue, red, and yellow slate tiles adorning the firepit’s mantel provide an earthy feel and complement outdoor furniture with a Tuscan or Mediterranean theme.

Faux Stone Firepit Table
Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com

Layers of faux stone surround the base of this full-size firepit table, making it a natural fit for any outdoor setting. The gorgeous black granite tabletop and clear fire glass add a touch of refinement to suit more contemporary patios.

Firepit Table Design Wicker Pattern
Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com

Providing warmth, style, and function, this propane firepit table is the perfect gathering spot for backyard entertaining. The base of the firepit features an elegant wicker-like weave pattern, which merges well with the causal feel of tropical design themes. What’s more, its conventional shape and sophisticated color make it a great fit for traditional and contemporary style backyards.

Dining Firepit Table
Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com

Combining sophistication and comfort, this exquisite dining firepit table will become the centerpiece of any backyard patio. The circular marble tabletop offers versatile style appeal and can be outfitted with three different fire kits for a more customized look. Choose ceramic lava rocks (shown) for a look that’s both rustic and elegant, ceramic logs for a more traditional campfire feel, or clear glass or lava granules for a unique contemporary design.

Steel Firepit Design with Mosaic Slate Tabletop
Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com

A coffee table shape allows for more family and friends to gather around this lavish steel firepit, which houses two propane tanks inside its base for extra convenience. The gorgeous mosaic slate tabletop boasts a palette of neutral tones to fit any backyard setting and décor, including Tuscan, traditional, and contemporary designs.

Firepit Table-Basket Weave Design
Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com

This firepit table is a combination of classic elegance and lived-in comfort, making it the perfect addition to traditional backyards and décor. The base of the firepit is made from solid cast resin and features curved sides and a slate-like tabletop. The basket weave pattern on the sides of the base gives the impression of wicker and adds subtle texture to the design. Arctic flame glass enhances the fire’s allure and entices guests to stay a little while longer.

Round Stone Resin Firepit
Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com

This stylish round firepit design is a sharp match for any backyard décor—from traditional to modern to tropical. It features a stone resin base in a wicker pattern and a granite tabletop. This firepit also serves double-duty as an elegant side table: just place the granite tabletop cover over the stainless steel burner.

Concrete Firepit Table Design
Photo courtesy of R.H. Peterson Co.

Made from concrete reinforced with glass fiber, this ornate fire table is a great conversation piece. The intricate carving pattern and stately arches on the sides of the table provide a formal look to suit traditional and Italian landscape designs.   

Top Outdoor Accessories for Fall - Fabrics, Fire Features, Lighting & Decor

Outdoor Accessories and Decorations for Fall

With its brisk air and vibrant foliage, fall is a beautiful time of year to enjoy the outdoors. By adding a few outdoor accessories and decorations, you can experience the vivid scenery and crisp weather from the comfort of your backyard patio or deck all season long.

From outdoor fabrics in rich colors to fire features that keep you warm in the cool autumn temperatures, here are some outdoor accessories and decorations that will enhance your outdoor space for fall.

Outdoor Fabrics for Fall

Summer Classics Outdoor Furniture

Photo courtesy of Summer Classics
Outdoor fabrics are used for a variety of outdoor furnishings and accessories, including patio cushions, pillows, canopies, and outdoor rugs. Available in a wide range of fabric colors, textures, and patterns, these outdoor accessories offer a quick and simple way to update the look of your patio furniture for fall.

For instance, patio cushions in brightly colored fabrics and summery designs can be swapped with outdoor cushions and pillows in warm harvest tones like pumpkin, cinnamon, sage, plum, and cranberry.

Patio with Outdoor Rug and Fall Theme
Photo courtesy of Whitecraft, Inc.; photography by CKM Photographics Inc; designed by William Herren

An outdoor rug lends seasonal impact when adorned with nature-inspired colors or designs, such as leaves, flowers, or pinecones. Additionally, a rug can establish a cozier atmosphere outdoors by defining a smaller area of the patio.

To refresh the look of your outdoor dining table for the season, make a table runner or placemats from fall-colored outdoor fabrics. Adding this small touch will help tie your patio’s fall theme together.

Patio with Outdoor Fireplace

Outdoor Fire Features for Fall

To properly update your patio or deck for fall you have to prepare for the change in weather. Outdoor heaters such as firepits, fireplaces, and patio heaters will keep you warm in the chilly autumn temperatures, as well as add a charming focal point to your backyard sitting area.

Portable outdoor fire features, including firepits, fire bowls, firepit tables, chimineas, and fireplaces, are easy to set up and come in an array of materials and styles to match your outdoor setting and décor.

While all of these fire features will lend a warm glow to your patio, some options are better suited for different climates. If you live in a mild climate region, an outdoor firepit, firepit table, or chiminea will provide sufficient heat since temperatures never drop too low. To ward off the nippy fall breezes in colder climates, an outdoor fireplace or patio heater will supply better heat coverage (patio heaters can typically heat about a 6- to 20-foot radius).

Photo courtesy of
Brandenburg Pool

Outdoor Decorations for Fall

An easy way to decorate your yard for fall is with the array of harvest items. Pumpkins, gourds, hay bales, and dried cornstalks embody the natural textures and colors of the season and can be placed around your patio or deck in a number of ways. For example, dried corn stalks can be tied to deck rails with twine; pumpkins and gourds of varying sizes, colors, and shapes can be arranged in a corner of the patio or scattered along the top of deck rails; bales of hay can be positioned throughout your outdoor space to serve as a rustic touch as well as additional seating or tables during outdoor gatherings.

Outdoor Decorations for Fall_Pumpkins & Gourds
Photo courtesy of EASYdesigns (www.easydesigns.biz); photography by Elisabeth Secocky

Additionally, an assortment of fall blooms such as chrysanthemums, pansies, carnations, violas, and alstroemerias can be planted in containers or hanging baskets and dotted around your patio or deck. 

Outdoor Patio Lighting for Fall

As the days get shorter, outdoor lighting will keep your patio well lit so you can stay outside on a crisp fall day well into the evening. Some deck and patio lighting ideas include outdoor tabletop lanterns, chandeliers, and string patio lights. These outdoor lighting fixtures serve both function and style by illuminating sitting areas and adding autumnal charm to the patio landscape.

Outdoor Patio Lighting for Fall
Photo courtesy of Environmental Landscape Associates

Outdoor lamps that look like their indoor counterparts are another lighting option and can make your patio feel just as warm and inviting as your interior rooms.

For added safety, install outdoor lighting on steps, walkways, and along the edges of your patio or deck so you and your guests can carefully navigate the area when darkness settles in.

6 Delicious Fall Pork Recipes

Recipes for Pork Chops, Ham, Bacon, and More

Celebrate National Pork Month with these 6 sweet and savory pork recipes.

Ham and Almond Pastry Ring

Recipe from PorkBeInspired.com

Ham and Almond Pastry RingTimes:

Prep Time: 20 minutes prep, Cook Time: 30 minutes cook


1 cup cooked ham, diced
1/2 cup chive and onion cream cheese spread
2 tablespoons Caesar dressing
1 large apple, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup grapes, red or green, quartered
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup green bell pepper, diced
2 8-oz cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
Nonstick cooking spray

Cooking Directions:

In large bowl, blend cream cheese spread and dressing. Add ham, apple, grapes, onion and green pepper; gently stir until coated. Set aside.

Line a large baking sheet with heavy foil. Lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. Unroll both cans of crescent rolls and separate. On prepared baking sheet arrange triangles overlapping with shortest side of each roll toward center leaving 5-inch circle open in center. Points of crescent dough may hang over edge of baking sheet. Press overlapping dough to flatten and close center circle to 4-inches.

Spoon mixture evenly over widest part of dough. Pull points of dough over filling and tuck dough under dough in center to form ring. (Some filling will be visible.) Brush dough evenly with beaten egg and sprinkle with almonds. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes or until golden and pastry in inner circle is baked. (If necessary, loosely cover outer edge of pastry with foil during the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent over-browning.) Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Using large spatula, carefully slide onto large serving platter.*

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

*If desired, use foil to lift and transfer pastry ring to serving platter. Cut foil in center of ring and underneath pastry ring; pull foil pieces to remove.

Apple and Cornbread-Stuffed Pork Loin with Roasted Apple Gravy

Recipe from PorkBeInspired.com

Apple and Cornbread-Stuffed Pork LoinTimes:

Prep Time: 30 minutes prep, Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes cook


1 boneless pork loin, (4 pounds)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
3 medium apples, peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup Calvados, OR apple brandy
1 1/4 cup homemade chicken stock, OR canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup apple juice, OR cider
1/4 cup heavy cream

Cornbread and Apple Stuffing:
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup smoked ham, finely chopped, OR diced smoked sausage
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup apples, peeled and diced 1/4-inch
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 1/2 cups homemade cornbread, crumbled and dried OR dried cornbread stuffing mix
1/4 cup apple juice

Cooking Directions:

For stuffing, heat butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat; add ham or sausage and cook 3 minutes. Add onion, celery and a pinch each of salt and pepper; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are quite soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in diced apple and cook 1 minute. Transfer apple mixture to a large bowl. Sprinkle with sage and stir in cornbread crumbs, apple juice and egg. The mixture should be moist but not wet. Add more apple juice if the mixture seems dry. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. To double butterfly the pork loin, lay the meat, fat-side down, on a work surface and make a horizontal lengthwise cut two-thirds of the way into the depth of the loin and about 1 inch from the long edge nearest you, taking care not to cut all the way through. Flip the loin over so that the cut you just made is opposite you. Make another lengthwise cut, again 1 inch from the edge. Open up the two cuts so you have a large rectangle of meat whose diameter is roughly 3 times the thickness of the meat. Place fat-side down and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a cleaver or a meat pounder, gently flatten the meat to an even thickness.

Remove plastic wrap and spread apple stuffing evenly over the meat, leaving a generous 3/4–inch border. Roll up meat jelly-roll style so that stuffing is in a spiral pattern. Tie rolled roast at 2-inch intervals with butcher’s twine.

Combine 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and remaining sage and sprinkle over roast. Lay the sliced apples on the bottom of a roasting pan just a bit larger than the roast and set the roast, fat-side up, on the apples. Put roast in the oven and cook for 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 325 degrees and roast for 45 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the roast with an instant-read thermometer: The roast is done when it reaches 145 degrees. If it is not ready, continue to roast, checking the temperature every 10 minutes. When the roast is done, transfer it to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for at least 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the apples in the roasting pan to a bowl and keep warm. Pour off any fat from the roasting pan, leaving the meat juices on the bottom. Put pan over medium-high heat, add Calvados and deglaze pan allowing the alcohol to burn off, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a small saucepan and add stock, apple juice and cream. Increase heat to high and bring liquid to a boil. Simmer, stirring, until reduced by half. Taste for salt and pepper. Keep the sauce warm while you carve the pork roast.

Remove twine from the roast and cut it into 1/2-inch thick slices. (If you cut the slices too thin, they will fall apart.) Arrange the pork on a serving platter. Spoon the sliced apples around the meat and pour the sauce over all.

Serves 8.

*Adapted from “Bruce Aidells’s Complete Book of Pork,” courtesy of Harper Collins Publishers

Beer-Grilled Chops

Recipe from PorkBeInspired.com

Beer-Grilled Pork ChopsTimes:

Prep Time: 10 minutes prep, Cook Time: 10 minutes cook


4 bone-in pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ginger root, grated
1 cup beer

Cooking Directions:

Place chops in a self-sealing plastic bag; add remaining ingredients and seal bag. Gently massage bag to evenly distribute marinade ingredients. Refrigerate 4-24 hours.

Prepare medium-hot coals in kettle-style grill. Remove chops from marinade and discard marinade; place on grill directly over coals, cover grill and grill for 8-9 minutes, turning once, or until thermometer inserted reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a 3-minute rest time.

Serves 4.

Bacon-Wrapped Figs With Maple Snakebite Glaze and Goat Cheese and Thyme Dip

Recipe from PorkBeInspired.com

Bacon-Wrapped Figs with Maple GlazeTimes:

Prep Time: 15 minutes prep, Cook Time: 15 minutes cook


6 strips bacon, halved crosswise
12 figs, stemmed*
12 pecan pieces, toasted
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 cup soft goat cheese, (2 ounces)
1/4 cup cream cheese, (2 ounces)
3 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped OR 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Cooking Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place 4 layers of paper towels on microwave-safe plate. Top with bacon slices. Cover with two more layers of paper towels. Microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes to render fat from bacon but not crisp. While bacon cools, slice each fig twice, starting at stem end, and cutting three-quarters of way to bottom. Stuff each fig with a pecan piece. Wrap a half strip of bacon around each fig and secure with toothpick. Place on foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Turn. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until bacon is sizzling and begins to crisp. In small bowl, combine syrup and cayenne pepper. Brush mixture over appetizers.

For dip, combine all dip ingredients in small bowl. Cover and chill until serving time.Makes: about 1/2 cup Serve appetizers warm with dip.

Serves 12

*Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California work well.

Apricot-Dijon Pork Salad

Recipe from PorkBeInspired.com

Apricot-Dijon Pork SaladTimes:

Prep Time: 10 minutes prep, Cook Time: 15 minutes cook


1 whole pork tenderloin, about 1 pound
1 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 10-oz package mixed salad greens
1 15-oz can apricot halves, drained, sliced
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
4 - 5 ounces Provolone cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted

Cooking Directions:

In small bowl stir together preserves, vinegar, mustard and ginger. Reserve 3/4 cup for salad dressing.

Butterfly pork tenderloin (cut almost in half, but not quite through, horizontally; open and lay flat. Prepare medium-hot fire in kettle-style grill. Grill tenderloin over heat 5-6 minutes per side; brushing with remaining apricot mixture during last 2 minutes on each side until internal temperature on a thermometer reads 145 degrees F. Remove tenderloin to cutting board and let rest for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile in large bowl toss together greens, apricots, cherries, cheese, pecans and onions. Divide mixture evenly among 4 plates. Slice pork into 1/2-inch pieces. Arrange portions of pork on top of greens on each plate; drizzle with reserved apricot mixture.

Serves 4.

*To toast pecans, place pecan halves in shallow baking pan in a 350 degrees F. oven for about 10 minutes. Let cool, chop coarsely.

Grilled Pork Panini

Recipe from PorkBeInspired.com

Grilled Pork PaniniTimes:

Prep Time: 10 minutes prep, Cook Time: 10 minutes cook


3 cooked pork chops, thinly sliced *
8 slices Italian bread
1/2 cup pesto
4 1-oz slices Provolone cheese
olive oil

Cooking Directions:

Spread 1 tablespoon pesto on each slice of bread. Top four slices of bread with sliced pork chops and cheese; top each sandwich with remaining bread. Lightly brush outer surface of sandwiches with olive oil; grill in a medium-hot skillet until toasted on each side.

Serves 4.

*Use the leftovers from Balsamic Pork Chops.

Recipes and photos courtesy of National Pork Board. For more information about pork, visit PorkBeInspired.com.

Why You Need a Pool Cover Pump for Your Winter Cover

Pool Cover Pumps

Wayne Automatic Pool Cover PumpFor many pool owners around the country, the month of October signifies pool-closing season, which means it’s time to winterize and cover your swimming pool until spring. Closing your pool for the winter is necessary to protect the structure against damage from freezing water as well as keep it as clean as possible until the next season.

Once your pool is winterized and covered, there is still one more bit of maintenance you’ll have to perform: preventing water and debris from accumulating on the cover.

Fallen leaves, rain, and snow regularly collect on your pool cover throughout fall and winter (and even early spring) and can cause the cover to collapse or sink if too much weight builds up. Additionally, salts and other pollutants in the water can break down the fibers in the cover. A pool cover pump quickly and effectively removes excess water from your winter pool cover, helping to prevent damage and possible replacement. Pool cover pumps are available in manual or automatic operation.

Manual Pool Cover Pumps

Manual pool cover pumps, which are less expensive, need to be physically turned on after a rain shower or when a large puddle of water has collected on the pool cover and then manually turned off. Automatic pool cover pumps are operated by a water-sensing microprocessor which detects when water has accumulated on the cover and automatically starts the operation of the pump to remove the water; the pump turns off once the water reaches below a certain level.

Wayne Pool Cover PumpAutomatic Pool Cover Pumps

Automatic pool cover pumps provide worry-free, efficient operation and extend the life of the pump because it only works when it has to. “It also gives the homeowner the freedom to leave the pool cover pump unattended, without the need to plug it in or turn it on and off, greatly reducing the time and fuss of pool cover maintenance,” said Matt Dempsey, Sales Director at WAYNE Water Systems, a leading manufacturer of residential water handling systems. The company recently introduced the Wayne® Pool Cover Pump which senses freezing conditions, and turns the pump off to prevent damage in the case of ice build-up. Included with the product is a check valve, to prevent water from running back into the pump, which causes unnecessary cycling, and a unique positioning rope to help properly position the pump at the lowest spot on the pool cover. “These safeguards and the accessories included make this a smart investment for homeowner’s looking to reduce pool maintenance,” says Dempsey.

Photos courtesy of Wayne Water Systems

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